Monday, 7 November 2011

Different Approaches in Teaching

Behaviourist Approach:

Behaviourism is a theory expounded by the psychologist B F Skinner, who argued that cause and effect is what controls behaviour, not the mind or reasoning. The keyword to Behaviourism is “conditioning” or “training.” The story about Pavlov’s dogs illustrates this idea.

All about Pavlov’s Dogs

The physiologist Pavlov noticed that his dogs salivated at feeding time at the smell of food. He decided to explore this reaction and accompanied feeding time with the ringing of a bell. This he did over a long period, which is what conditioning requires. One day, he rang the bell but did not bring food. The dogs continued to salivate. Through this, Pavlov learned that the dogs had made a mental association between the sound of the bell and the experience of food. The dogs had “learned” a response through conditioning to a particular stimulus, in this case, the bell.

Classical Conditioning and Operant Conditioning

There are two sides to the Behaviourist approach:
  • Classical Conditioning
  • Operant Conditioning
Classical conditioning is simply about conditioning through a neutral stimulus. Nothing else is involved. An example of this is the sound of the bell in schools that encourages the automatic response of children to go to class.
Operant conditioning means reinforcing a particular behaviour through punishment or reward. An example of this is to give someone a treat if he behaves or to berate bad behaviour.
In both Operant and Classical conditioning, Behaviourism is all about behaviour only, and not about the cognitive thought processes of the higher brain.

Different Levels of Learning

Bloom’s Taxonomy illustrates the pyramid of learning. The lowest tier is simply to recall. This can be seen in young children who recite the alphabet. The pinnacle of Bloom’s Taxonomy is evaluation. This means being able to reflect upon the information and formulate a fresh view.
In the context of learning, the Behaviourist model for learning is teacher-directed, pedagogic and concrete. It is all about “do as I say.” This involves the lower levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy. The more gifted learner who is at the top of the learning pyramid might not benefit from a Behaviourist-dominated lesson.

Appropriate Use of Discipline in Lesson Plans

The Behaviourist view in terms of teaching includes highly-structured lesson plans. Strategies include approaches such as lectures, demonstrations and directed instruction. This can include punishing bad behaviour and encouraging good behaviour. This will preserve healthy teacher pupil boundaries. The Behaviourist approach to teaching is easy to evaluate, for it is structured, directed and concrete.

When the Behaviourist Approach is Appropriate within the Classroom

The Behaviourist approach might be best suited to a class of young or less able learners, for the objectives are clear and are easy to measure. This form of teaching might also be necessary for moving things along, keeping to deadlines such as exams, discouraging late-comers and people texting during class. The Behaviourist approach might also be appropriate for a class full of unruly teenagers, but a different approach might be needed if a pupil is at risk of becoming excluded.

Behaviour Management in Class

The Behaviourist approach is only one theory that can be applied to teaching and learning. More able students might become fidgety if too much Behaviourism is applied. There are other approaches that can be used such as the Cognitivist or Humanist approach, but no lesson plan can work if it is completely Behavioural-free. A little discipline helps keep the lesson structured and moving along.
Humanist Approach:

A humanist is a person having a strong interest in or concern for human  welfare, values, and dignity or a person devoted to or versed in the humanities.
Humanism is an approach in study, philosophy, or practice that focuses on human values and concerns. In philosophy and social science, humanism is a perspective which affirms some notion of human nature, and is contrasted with anti-humanism.
Secular Humanism is a secular ideology which espouses reason, ethics, and justice, whilst specifically rejecting supernatural and religious dogma as a basis of morality and decision-making. Secular Humanism contrasts with Religious Humanism, which is an integration of humanist ethical philosophy with religious rituals and beliefs that center on human needs, interests, and abilities.
Renaissance humanism is a cultural movement of the Italian Renaissance based on the study of classical works. Religious and Secular Humanism arose from a trajectory extending from the deism and anti-clericalism of the Enlightenment, the various secular movements of the 19th century and the overarching expansion of the scientific project.
            Many humanists were teachers, and in their pedagogical theory and practice they devoted attention to physical development as well as to intellectual formation. The Education of Boys (1450), for example, by Enea Silvio Piccolomini (1405-64), later to become Pope Pius II, is divided into two parts: the first concerned with the body, the second with the mind. Piccolomini stressed the necessity of developing a sturdy physique by avoiding feather beds, silk clothing, and other luxurious items which encouraged softness and effeminacy.

In addition to the pedagogical value of physical exercise, humanists took an interest in its health-giving benefits. The physician Hieronymus Mercurialis (1530-1606) drew on an enormous range of Greek and Latin texts in his Six Books on the Gymnastic Art, Famous among the Ancients but Unknown in Our Times (1559). Although Mercurialis wanted to revive this lost art, he recommended exercising only in the morning and taking a nap in the afternoon, because man's physical constitution had weakened considerably since antiquity on account of changed eating habits and daily routines.

            Humanists uncovered a more inspiring parallel between buildings and the human body in the architectural treatise of the Roman author Vitruvius. He compared the symmetry of a temple to that of a well-proportioned man, who, with extended hands and feet, fits exactly into both a circle and a square, the two most perfect geometrical figures. The famous drawing of ‘Vitruvian man’ (Venice, Accademia) by Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) is a good example of the way in which the humanists' study of ancient texts influenced the Renaissance perception of the human body.

Natural Approach:

The natural approach is one of the, "language teaching methods based on observation and interpretation of how learners acquire both first and second languages in nonformal settings." (Richards & Rodgers 2001: 190)
Krashen and Terrell saw the approach as a, "traditional approach to language teaching [because it is] based on the use of language in communicative situations without recourse to the native language." (Richards & Rodgers 2001: 178)
The approach focuses on input, comprehension, and meaningful communication and puts less emphasis on grammar, teacher monologues, direct repetition and accuracy.

Activities and materials in natural approach:

Within a natural approach, emphasis is placed on comprehensible input, meaningful communication and a relaxed classroom atmosphere. "To minimize stress, learners are not required to say anything until they feel ready, but they are expected to respond to teacher commands and questions." (Richards & Rodgers 2001: 185) There is a gradual progression from "Yes/No" and simple display questions, to more complex and open questions.
"There is nothing novel about the procedures and techniques advocated for use with the Natural Approach." (Richards & Rodgers 2001: 185); familiar activities like command-based activities, situation-based activities, and group-work activities focus on, "providing comprehensible input and a classroom environment that cues comprehension of input, minimizes learner anxiety, and maximizes learner self-confidence." (Richards & Rodgers 2001: 185)
Materials used in a natural approach classroom aim at making activities and tasks as meaningful as possible -- they foster comprehension and communication. Authentic materials, like brochures or maps, as well as visual aids and games are used to facilitate acquisition and to promote comprehension and real communication.

Learner and teacher roles

The learner’s role changes and develops during a natural approach course because there are various stages the learner has to go through. The first stage is the pre-production stage where the learner is not forced to respond orally and is allowed to decide on his/her own when to start to speak. The next stage, the early-production stage, fosters short answers and the student has to respond to simple questions and to use fixed conversational patterns. In the speech-emergent stage the use of complex utterances emerges, for example in role plays or games. Another important role of the language acquirer is the role of, "a processor of comprehensible input [who] is challenged by input that is slightly beyond his or her current level of competence and is able to assign meaning to this input through active use of context and extralinguistic information." (Richards & Rodgers 2001: 186)

The natural approach classroom allocates a central role for the teacher; he has several important roles. First, the teacher provides a constant flow of comprehensible input in the target language and provides non-linguistic clues. Second, the teacher has to create a harmonious classroom atmosphere that fosters a low affective filter. Third, the teacher decides on the classroom activities and tasks regarding group sizes, content, contexts, and materials. Finally, the teacher is responsible to, "communicate clearly and compellingly to students the assumptions, organizations, and expectations of the method." (Richards & Rodgers 2001: 188) Krashen and Terrell point out the importance of explaining to learners what they can expect and what not of the language course.

The Cognitive Approach

Cognitive theory assumes that responses are also the result of insight and intentional patterning.
Insight can be directed to (a) the concepts behind language i.e. to traditional grammar.
It can also be directed to (b) language as an operation - sets of communicative functions.
A variety of activities practised in new situations will allow assimilation of what has already been learnt or partly learnt. It will also create further situations for which existing language resources are inadequate and must accordingly be modified or extended - "accommodation". This ensures an awareness and a continuing supply of learning goals as well as aiding the motivation of the learner.
Cognitive theory therefore acknowledges the role of mistakes. See Dakin's Novish lesson in which he sets deliberate traps in "The Language Laboratory and Language Learning" by Julian Dakin published by Longman 1973. Dakin: "We must design our lessons and language laboratory tapes so as to invite the learner to make the minimum number of mistakes consonant with, and conducive to, learning new rules. Equally important to the principles underlying the use of "meaningful drills" and also relevant to the role of mistakes in cognotive theory is the association of mentalism with notionalism.
Trainers of English language teachers can achieve practical coverage of cognitive learning theory by reviewing the history of language teaching, especially the period in the mid 20th century when "meaningful drills" were being advocated and the shortcomings of "meaningless drills" were being highlighted. Although drilling and rote learning became subject to considerable prejudice in some educational circles in the late 20th century, no language learner will proceed very far without recognition of language structure and nobody will succeed in learning much without practice and repetition. Knowledge of the "types of drill" which the accomplished language teacher or informed computer learning program can employ provide a full toolkit for anybody responsible for learning and teaching.
Cognitive theory maintains that how one thinkslargely detemines how one feels and behaves. This relates to and incorporates to all forms of knowing,including memory, psycholinguistics, thinking, comprehension, motivation, andperception.
Memory is an importantcomponent ofthis theory. Much of the material learned in school is dependent on rotememorization of declarative or facutal knowledge. Recently attempts have been made to develop methods of teaching which are basedon meaningful integration of material and the mastery of procedural knowledge. , which varies from situation tosituation, will greatly effect how individuals behave in a given situation. Understanding of language, or psycholinguistics,is esstential to our understanding of print and oral acquistion of knowledge. Comprehension and perception willallow individuals to interpret information. Lastly, the overall of the learner will determine howeffectively the information is retained or processed.
According to Kate McGilly (1996), students are not learning to their full potentialdue to the fact that more often than not, they use rote memoryprocedures in the classroom. With the increased competition in the work forceand jobs becoming more demanding, students need to be more prepared for higherlearning and the job market with skills that evolve from cognitive theory. These skills, including study skills, social skills, problem solving, andorganizational skills to name a few, should be taught and integrated across thecurriculum.
Communicative Approach:
Chomsky's terms (1965) used to refer to the native speaker's idealized knowledge of the abstract system of rules of the language, knowledge that can produce and understand an infinite number of sentences.
Term used by Campbell and Wales (1970) and Hymes (1972) to refer the relationship and interaction between the native speaker's grammatical competence and Sociolinguistic Competence. It is distinguished from communicative performance which is the realization of theses competences in actual speech in real situations. There are two aspects:
a) the ability to produce correct sentences, or manifestations of the linguistic system
b) the ability to use the knowledge of the rules for effective communication.
This approach focuses on language as a medium of communication. Recognises that all communication has a social purpose - learner has something to say or find out. Communication embraces a whole spectrum of functions (e.g. seeking information/ apologising/ expressing likes and dislikes, etc) and notions (e.g. apologising for being late / asking where the nearest post office is). New syllabuses based on communicative method offered some communicative ability from early stage.


A moralist can be defined as:

“one who moralizes; one who teaches or animadverts upon the duties of life; a writer of essays intended to correct vice and inculcate moral duties.”
“One who practices moral duties; a person who lives in conformity with moral rules; one of correct deportment and dealings with his fellow-creatures; -- sometimes used in contradistinction to one whose life is controlled by religious motives.”

Different quotations regarding moralist:

  • The moralist is the person who tells people that they ought to be unselfish, when they still feel like egos, and his efforts are always and invariably futile. (Alan Watts)
  • Though sages may pour out their wisdom's treasure, there is no sterner moralist than pleasure. (Lord Byron)
  • Ages when custom is unsettled are necessarily ages of prophecy. The moralist cannot teach what is revealed; he must reveal what can be taught. He has to seek insight rather than to preach. (Walter Lippmann)

Many poets have strong ethical or religious convictions, but the moralist critic usually has a broader interest. Literature has a humanizing or civilizing mission, and the critic values work which furthers that end: promotes tolerance, social justice, sensitivity to individual wishes and talents, etc.


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